The Federal Government has told Nigerians that the era of waiting for months to get their passports is over.
This was as it announced a 2-week timeline for the processing of passport applications.
The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja while giving an update on his directive to the Nigeria Immigration Service to clear over 204,000 backlogs of passport applications.
He said: “On September 7, we made a promise to sort out the backlogs in two weeks, but we made it in three weeks, and I sincerely want to apologise to Nigerians for that.
“For us, we are assured that if it can work in the NIS, it can work anywhere else. Nigeria is undergoing a process.
“We inherited 204,332 enrolments without passports being issued, people that had applied and captured. That was the figure, and we gave a marching order because the President was also on our necks to bring solutions and succour to Nigerians.
“We went into strategic meetings with the NIS and with the support of our service providers, we were able to increase printing machines to four in passport offices where we had two. Our service providers gave us the machines at no cost.
“The NIS personnel were doing three shifts, working 24/7 to make sure that we clear the backlogs and to ensure that never again are we going to have backlogs of passport production.
“We want to ensure that nobody waits for more than two weeks to get their passports.
“As of October 1, we had cleared all the 204,332 backlogs, and from the records produced by the NIS, the number of passports already collected is 91,981. Outstanding but available is 112,351.”
He also expressed the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to not increase the cost of passport application despite the foreign exchange volatility.
The minister said he had perused all the contracts and agreements the ministry and its agencies had entered into with service providers, saying in the next couple of months, passport applicants would be able to upload their passport photographs via the immigration portal, rather than going to passport offices for such capture.
According to him, applicants would only be required to visit the passport offices for their biometrics enrolment.
“Hopefully, by December, people will not need to go to passport offices when they are snapping or taking pictures. This is 2023. People will be able to upload their passport photographs online with specifications.
“When you apply for a visa, you do that, and we are advancing in that line. Also, your supporting documents should be uploaded online so that when you go to the passport office, it will just be for biometrics and within five minutes you have left there”, the minister said.